Prep bat moves up college-dominated Top 10 in latest mock draft

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Five years ago, the Draft would have taken place this week and we’d already know which prospects were headed where. In 2024, it’s still 38 days away.

Most players have finished competing, though the three best prospects in the Draft and nine other potential first-rounders will compete in NCAA Super Regionals this weekend, and a few high schoolers are still active. The biggest event remaining on the calendar is the MLB Draft Combine from June 18-23 at Chase Field in Phoenix, where teams can dig deeper on makeup (via interviews) and medical information (via exams). In addition to finalizing evaluations of player ability, clubs also will have to determine signability before the Draft kicks off July 14 in Fort Worth, Texas.

There’s more gossip than hard intel at this point. A year ago at this time, rumors swirled that the Pirates were leaning toward cutting a discount deal with the top pick, the Tigers coveted college bats at No. 3 and the Twins didn’t want a high schooler at No. 5. As it turned out, Pittsburgh gave Paul Skenes a record bonus, while Detroit and Minnesota popped prep outfielders Max Clark and Walker Jenkins.

Teams have yet to zero in on their targets, so don’t read too much into the fact that the first five picks in our latest projection below match Jonathan Mayo’s mock draft from last week. The Guardians have been very quiet about their plans for the No. 1 overall choice, everything is still very fluid and there’s little consensus about how to line up the prospects beyond the top 10. Oregon State second baseman Travis Bazzana and Georgia outfielder/third baseman Charlie Condon are on a tier by themselves, followed by four more college bats (Florida first baseman/left-hander Jac Caglianone, Wake Forest first baseman Nick Kurtz, West Virginia shortstop JJ Wetherholt, Texas A&M outfielder Braden Montgomery), two college arms (Wake Forest right-hander Chase Burns, Arkansas left-hander Hagen Smith) and a pair of prep shortstops (Konnor Griffin and Bryce Rainer).

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Detailed reports, scouting grades and video for all the players below are available on MLB Pipeline’s Draft Top 200.

1. Guardians: Travis Bazzana, 2B, Oregon State (No. 1)Most clubs believe the Guardians will take Bazzana because he’s the best pure hitter available and fits their model better than anyone. If it’s not Bazzana, teams think Plan B will be to take a large discount with a player who won’t go in the first few selections, with possibilities such as Burns, Wetherholt and Griffin. There’s surprisingly little buzz about Condon at No. 1 despite him and Bazzana separating themselves from the rest of the pack.

2. Reds: Charlie Condon, OF/3B, Georgia (No. 2)The Reds’ decision looks as simple as taking whomever the Guardians leave on the table between Bazzana and Condon, who is the biggest offensive force in the Draft. He currently leads NCAA Division I in both hitting (.445) and home runs (36, a record since the NCAA instituted stricter bat guidelines in 2011). Cincinnati does need pitching and could opt for Burns, but that seems unlikely.

3. Rockies: Chase Burns, RHP, Wake Forest (No. 5)The Rockies appear to favor pitchers over hitters and seem to prefer Burns to Smith after both broke the D-I record for strikeout rate in a season (Smith at 17.3 per nine innings, Burns at 17.2). Neither pitched well while their teams got eliminated in NCAA regional play last weekend, but that doesn’t affect their Draft status. It’s unclear whether Colorado would take an arm over Condon or Bazzana.

4. Athletics: Braden Montgomery, OF, Texas A&M (No. 8)The Athletics are focusing on college bats with Montgomery and Florida first baseman/left-hander Jac Caglianone moving ahead of Kurtz.

5. White Sox: Jac Caglianone, 1B/LHP, Florida (No. 3)This pick is wide open. It’s probably a position player from a large group that includes Montgomery and Caglianone, and this could be the realistic ceiling for Wetherholt, Griffin or Rainer. Despite the hype surrounding his two-way ability, Caglianone almost certainly will become a full-time slugger as a pro.

6. Royals: Bryce Rainer, SS, Harvard-Westlake HS (Studio City, Calif.) (No. 10)The Royals appear to prefer Rainer to Griffin but could be tempted by Smith. Don’t rule out the college bats mentioned above either.

7. Cardinals: Hagen Smith, LHP, Arkansas (No. 6)The Cardinals haven’t drafted this high since taking J.D. Drew fifth overall in 1998 and could have a rare opportunity to select a frontline starter in Smith or Burns. If they’re both gone, St. Louis could turn to Montgomery, Wetherholt, Rainer or Kurtz.

8. Angels: James Tibbs, OF, Florida State (No. 16)Rumors persist that the Angels are looking to find a discount here and Tibbs gets mentioned often as a deal-cutter who could slide into the top 10 somewhere. East Carolina right-hander Trey Yesavage is another below-slot possibility. If the Angels look to go full slot, any of the consensus top eight collegians would be in play, with Wetherholt and Kurtz still on the board in this scenario. But would they take another first baseman in Kurtz after selecting Nolan Schanuel 11th overall last July?

9. Pirates: JJ Wetherholt, SS/2B, West Virginia (No. 7)Wetherholt and Kurtz ranked 1-2 on our preseason Top 100 and might both be available to the Pirates. Wetherholt missed half the season with a recurring hamstring injury that has made it difficult to evaluate him at shortstop, but he has performed to his usual high standard when in the lineup and he offers a very similar profile to Bazzana at what will be a lesser price. Montgomery, Wetherholt and Kurtz appear to be ahead of Griffin and Rainer in Pittsburgh’s pecking order.

10. Nationals: Nick Kurtz, 1B, Wake Forest (No. 4)In terms of data, Kurtz may offer the best combination of swing decisions, contact and exit velocities in the entire Draft. He could go as high as No. 4, but the track record of first basemen at the top of the Draft and his history of injuries may knock him down further than expected. The Nationals will consider any of the consensus top 10 players who get to them, which in this projection would be Kurtz and Griffin.

11. Tigers: Konnor Griffin, SS/OF, Jackson Prep (Flowood, Miss.) (No. 9)As with the Wetherholt and Kurtz forecasts above, this is more the floor for Griffin. He has the best all-around tools and highest upside in the Draft as a potential 30-30 guy who could be a plus shortstop or Gold Glove center fielder, though some clubs worry about how well his swing will play at the big league level. Other Tigers possibilities include another top-10 talent who drops, as well as Arizona prep left-hander Cam Caminiti and Yesavage.

12. Red Sox: Christian Moore, 2B, Tennessee (No. 25)This is where it starts to get interesting. After the top 10 talents (which include six college hitters) are gone, there are 14 more college bats who could go anywhere from the teens to the supplemental first round and they could come off the board in just about any order. Wake Forest third baseman/outfielder Seaver King and Florida State third baseman Cam Smith are the consensus best college hitters in that second tier, and the Red Sox could be the high-water mark for Moore, Louisiana State third baseman Tommy White and outfielders Carson Benge (Oklahoma State), Vance Honeycutt (North Carolina) and Ryan Waldschmidt (Kentucky).

13. Giants: Cam Caminiti, LHP, Saguaro HS (Scottsdale, Ariz.) (No. 17)The Giants would like a shot at Rainer or Griffin. If that doesn’t happen, they’ll mull Caminiti vs. college bats such as King, Tibbs and Honeycutt.

14. Cubs: Trey Yesavage, RHP, East Carolina (No. 11)After missing the American Athletic Conference tournament with a partially collapsed lung, Yesavage proved he was fine by outdueling Burns in the NCAA regionals. Clearly the third-best college pitcher available, he’ll go in the upper half of the first round. The Cubs also are exploring college bats (this could be Tibbs’ floor and Stanford catcher Malcolm Moore’s ceiling) as well as high school lefties Caminiti and Kash Mayfield and prep shortstop Kellon Lindsey.

15. Mariners: Cam Smith, 3B, Florida State (No. 14)The Mariners are pursuing every demographic: college hitters (Smith, King, Tibbs, Waldschmidt) and pitchers (Mississippi State righty/lefty Jurrangelo Cijntje), high school bats (outfielder Slade Caldwell, infielder Theo Gillen) and arms (Caminiti, Mayfield, righty Ryan Sloan).

16. Marlins: Seaver King, 3B/OF, Wake Forest (No. 13)If a run of college bats doesn’t start with the Mariners, it will with the Marlins. Their targets include Smith, King, Tibbs and Moore, though it’s possible none of them last this long.

17. Brewers: Vance Honeycutt, OF, North Carolina (No. 20)The best all-around tools in the college class could land Honeycutt in the top 10, while swing-and-miss concerns could drop him into the late 20s. He probably goes somewhere in the middle, and the Brewers are pondering him and several other college hitters.

18. Rays: Ryan Waldschmidt, OF, Kentucky (No. 39)After tearing the ACL in his left knee last summer and getting off to a slow start while getting back to 100 percent this spring, Waldschmidt has cemented himself as a first-rounder in recent weeks. He keeps climbing as he attempts to leads Kentucky to its first-ever College World Series and wows analysts with his combination of selectivity, contact and power. The Rays appear headed for a college bat but probably wouldn’t let Caminiti get past them if he lasts longer than expected.

19. Mets: Carson Benge, OF, Oklahoma State (No. 19)The Mets seems locked in on college bats as well with Benge, Honeycutt, Kansas State shortstop Kaelen Culpepper and Mississippi State outfielder Dakota Jordan among those in play.

20. Blue Jays: Kaelen Culpepper, SS, Kansas State (No. 32)The college hitter trend continues with Culpepper, Waldschmidt, White and Sam Houston catcher Walker Janek among the possibilities. The Blue Jays could stop the run and opt for a college arm in Iowa right-hander Brody Brecht or Cijntje.

21. Twins: Tommy White, 3B, Louisiana State (No. 15)More college bats with candidates including White, Tennessee third baseman Billy Amick, Culpepper, Honeycutt, Jordan and the top college catchers (Janek, Stanford’s Moore, California’s Caleb Lomavita).

22. Orioles: Brody Brecht, RHP, Iowa (No. 21)Brecht’s stuff rivals that of Burns and Hagen Smith, though the former Iowa wide receiver has yet to harness it. He comes with a huge ceiling as well as risk, which is why he’ll likely land in the 20s. Benge, Waldschmidt and Culpepper are college hitters who could fit here.

23. Dodgers: William Schmidt, RHP, Catholic HS (Baton Rouge, La.) (No. 12)Many teams back away from the risk involved with high school arms in the first round, but the Dodgers aren’t scared. They don’t pick again until No. 98 and Schmidt offers the best curveball in the Draft and a fastball that hits 99 mph. They’re also linked with other pitchers such as Mayfield and Brecht.

24. Braves: Jurrangelo Cijntje, RHP/LHP, Mississippi State (No. 31)After Brecht and Cijntje, there’s a significant dropoff to the next group of college pitchers. The Braves also could pop the right college hitter (Benge, Waldschmidt) if he gets to them or they could dip into the second tier of prep shortstops (Gillen, Lindsey, Wyatt Sanford, Carter Johnson and Tyson Lewis) who will start going soon if they haven’t already.

25. Padres: Kash Mayfield, LHP, Elk City HS (Okla.) (No. 28)The Padres haven’t used a first-round choice on a collegian since Cal Quantrill and Eric Lauer in 2016. They can keep that streak going with Schmidt, Mayfield, outfielders Slade Caldwell or Braylon Payne or one of the shortstops.

26. Yankees: Billy Amick, 3B, Tennessee (No. 26)The Yankees may prefer a pitcher if a first-round-worthy arm makes it to No. 26, which appears unlikely.

27. Phillies: Theo Gillen, SS/2B, Westlake HS (Austin, Texas) (No. 27)While they won’t get as big a steal as they did at No. 27 a year ago with Aidan Miller, the Phillies could opt for high school upside once again. Schmidt and Mayfield would be hard to pass up, Gillen might possess the best hitting ability in the high school crop, and Caldwell and the other shortstops could be in play.

28. Astros: Tyson Lewis, SS, Millard West HS (Omaha, Neb.) (No. 46)The athletic Lewis is riding some helium into the first round with talk that he could soar as high as the teens. The Astros are scouting the prep shortstops hard, with Lindsey and Sanford ahead of Johnson.

29. Diamondbacks: Walker Janek, C, Sam Houston (No. 23)The D-backs own three of the next seven picks so they’re mentioned with more players than any club. Besides the college catchers, they also could have interest in Jordan and the high school outfielders and shortstops.

30. Rangers: Kellon Lindsey, SS, Hardee HS (Wauchula, Fla.) (No. 30)The two demographics linked most to the Rangers are the prep shortstops (led by Lindsey and Lewis) and the college catchers (with Janek ahead of Moore and Lomavita).

Supplemental first-round picks31. Diamondbacks: Slade Caldwell, OF, Valley View HS (Jonesboro, Ark.) (No. 22)32. Orioles: Dakota Jordan, OF, Mississippi State (No. 29)33. Twins: Carter Johnson, SS, Oxford HS (Ala.) (No. 40)34. Brewers: Malcolm Moore, C, Stanford (No. 24)35. Diamondbacks: Ryan Sloan, RHP, York HS (Elmhurst, Ill.) (No. 18)36. Guardians: Braylon Doughty, RHP, Chaparral HS (Temecula, Calif.) (No. 37)37. Pirates: Caleb Lomavita, C, California (No. 33)38. Rockies: Wyatt Sanford, SS, Independence HS (Frisco, Texas) (No. 35)39. Royals: Jonathan Santucci, LHP, Duke (No. 34)